By Jeremy Krinitt, General Manager, Frontier Security
Healthcare facilities are meant to be a source of comfort and healing; however, even hospitals and clinics are subject to crime, fraud, and other illegal acts. In fact, a 2012 study showed that incidents of crime at U.S. healthcare facilities were on the rise. The 2012 Crime and Security Trends Survey, which was underwritten by the Foundation of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) and based on online responses from 208 member healthcare organizations, found that the number of crimes increased by nearly 37 percent in just two years from just under 15,000 in 2010 to more than 20,500 in 2012.
Faced with a growing number of threats, it’s up to healthcare security officials to safeguard their facilities with the effective application of technology.
Access control solutions are often the first line of defense at healthcare facilities, which in many cases consist of large, sprawling campuses with multiple buildings and parking structures. But not every access control solution will meet the needs of such a facility. For hospitals, it’s important to keep the following features at the top of their access control priorities:
- Comprehensive Alarm Management: In a healthcare setting, fast response is essential in order to ensure the safety of expensive equipment, valuable facilities and, most of all, patients, employees and visitors. Look for an access control solution that provides comprehensive alarm management to enable real-time response to threats. Today, most healthcare facilities seek out a system that enables effective management of simultaneous events and alarm routing so that several security personnel can manage alarms and quickly respond as necessary.
- Flexibility: Every hospital’s needs are unique, depending on its physical layout, staffing levels, and challenges and resources. This type of facility requires a system that can easily be customized for very specific levels of management and control.
- Scalability: In the booming healthcare industry, any technology investment should be able to scale up as the facility grows. For any organization that expects to expand in the coming years, it’s best to deploy an access control solution that can quickly and cost-effectively add client workstations, doors, card holders, multiple credential technologies, users and even buildings.
- Ease-of-use: Security personnel can’t quickly and effectively respond to threats if the technology they use is overly complicated or difficult. In hospital environments, where quick response is vital, the access control system must be easy to operate and require minimal training for new employees.
- Simple Integration: At any healthcare facility, access control technology is just part of the broader security picture. An effective solution may also include video surveillance, electronic locks and readers, mobile solutions, biometrics, and more. To maximize the effectiveness of these different technologies, it’s important that the access control system seamlessly integrates with a range of third-party products. This will not only let security officials choose best-in-class technology; it will also make operators’ day-to-day tasks much easier and substantially more effective.
In addition, intelligent access control solutions that closely integrate with video surveillance platforms provide security staff with real-time and stored information to build effective cases, reduce liability, and quickly find evidence before suspicious behavior turns into a violent incident. Today’s hospitals can benefit greatly from these types of solutions that leverage the IP network and integrate multiple devices to work together. When systems work in concert, hospitals realize enhanced situational awareness and build a stronger, more holistic approach to security, which allows hospital staff to focus on their core mission: helping people get better.